Kings Cross access – public meeting a great success

Last night my colleague Jo Shaw & I were in the front row for the public meeting organised by the Kings Cross Access campaign. The campaign is demanding a bridge to keep east-west pedestrian and bike access when Kings Cross station is rebuilt.

The campaign has backing across the board. Jo & I brought messages of support from Caroline Pidgeon at the GLA. Norman Baker MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport has offered to table a Parliamentary Question.

Without a bridge, Network Rail’s current plans for the station will cut off our communities, and mean that local people will miss out on the regeneration benefits the new station is supposed to bring. At present, there are two entrances on the east, Islington, side of the station, meaning people can easily cross the station, as well as the main entrance on the Euston Road.

But when the station is rebuilt there will be a single entrance on the west side only, cutting off people in Islington and on Camden ’s Maiden Lane estate. Cyclists and pedestrians wanting to access the station, or follow existing walking & cycling routes, will be forced onto some of London ’s busiest roads instead. So campaigners are demanding access be retained by building a new bridge across the station parallel with Wharfdale Road, as originally planned.

Everyone – Network Rail included – agrees that the bridge is a good idea. But it seems to be falling between various stools. Campaigners got Network Rail to look at a bridge as part of the station planning application. Camden required a study into the bridge. But for some reason the study got limited to a bridge within the station, which consultants Arup concluded was unfeasible – and wouldn’t have met community aspirations for cross-station access anyway.

Some good news is that Network Rail have set aside £1M for improvements to York Way. If that was put towards a bridge instead – a pedestrian-only bridge would cost around £4M – it could be a powerful pump priming for other funding. With all the talk from Transport for London and the Department of Transport about supporting walking and cycling, plus the undoubted regeneration benefits for both Camden and Islington, not to mention developers Argent, some kind of bridge must be possible.

Having been one of a small band of leafleters publicising the meeting, it was great to see the hall at Blessed Sacrament full with over 70 people. Together we heard presentations from Network Rail and the Kings Cross Railway Lands Group, viewed the Kings Cross Access campaign’s exhibition and took part in the debate. Sophie’s report on the meeting is up on the campaign blog.

Meanwhile if you support the campaign you can sign the petition and join the Facebook group to stay in touch.

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